2021 Acura TLX pricing revealed: Is it worth the $38,525 base price?

In recent memory, the 2021 Acura TLX is one of the fastest concept cars to reach production status. It started life as the Acura Type S Concept which debuted at Monterey Car Week in 2019, and we're glad the production TLX inherited most of the concept's styling DNA. The all-new 2021 Acura TLX is arriving at U.S. dealerships in late September, but can its $38,525 base price lure potential BMW 3-Series and Lexus ES buyers to take the plunge?

Don't get us wrong, the 2021 Acura TLX is purported to revive the glory days of fast Hondas. The new TLX is the first Acura sedan built around the company's Precision Crafted Performance chassis and body structure. Whereas previous models of the TLX were based on the Accord, the next-gen TLX is riding on a model-exclusive architecture.

The new TLX is 50-percent stiffer and is the most rigid platform Acura has created next to the NSX supercar. So yeah, we think the 2021 Acura TLX rocks, but we have a slight issue: with base prices starting at $38,525 (including $1,025 destination charges), why is the new TLX worth $4,500 more than the outgoing entry model?

The delta comes because Acura actually retired its old entry-level 2.4-liter 4-cylinder car, and effectively opted not to replace it with the 2021 TLX. Your point of entry into 2021 TLX ownership is the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four instead, producing 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Its equivalent in the outgoing car had a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower, and started at $36,200: on a like-for-like comparison, it makes the 2021 TLX $1,300 more expensive than its predecessor out of the gate. Then again, the smaller engine pumps out more torque at lower engine speeds, and sips less fuel than the V6.

Front-wheel drive is standard while Acura's SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) is optional across all trim models for $2,000 more. You can't have a manual shifter, but Acura threw in a slick 10-speed automatic gearbox for good measure. Meanwhile, the Technology package starts at $45,525 while the A-Spec and Advance package models are at $5,275 and $47,325, respectively.

If you're pining for a V6, tough luck. You'll have to wait longer for the TLX Type S model which Acura has said will be "well equipped" in the low to mid-$50k range. In return, you get a magnificent 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 pumping out 355 horsepower to all four wheels via Acura's standard SH-AWD. The Type S won't arrive until the spring of 2021, but it's one of the most hotly-anticipated sports sedans at the moment.

Standard equipment for the 2021 Acura TLX includes a 10.2-inch HD infotainment screen, a 10-speaker audio system with Twin Telford subwoofers, and the latest version of AcuraWatch driver assist technology which now comes with traffic sign recognition and traffic jam assist.

[Updated to clarify TLX Type-S pricing and drivetrain, and make clear Acura's model line decisions]